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New professor in innate immunology

Rune Hartmann is appointed professor of “Innate Immunology” at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, effective from 1 June 2018.

Rune Hartmann

As professor in Innate Immunology, Rune Hartmann’s research will focus upon how viruses are recognized and how an effective antiviral defense is orchestrated by the immune system upon recognition of the intruding virus. A critical part of the antiviral defense system are Interferons, which are small proteins named for their ability to interfere with viral replication. Interferon is produced by viral-infected cells, and works by warning neighbouring but yet uninfected cells, of the approaching danger. Rune Hartmann works closely together with clinical colleagues on the role of Interferons in both severe viral infection – where an immune defect is suspected – and chronic liver inflammation. 

About Rune Hartmann

Rune received his MSc in biology in 1997 and his PhD in molecular biology in 2001, both from Aarhus University. His interest in immunology started during a six-month stay at the University of Vienna as an undergraduate student and part of the ERASMUs exchange programme. Thomas Decker was, and still is, the inspiring teacher of immunology in Vienna and laid the seeds for a keen interest in innate immunology – and in particular the interferon system.

During his PhD studies, Rune worked in the group of Just Justesen on a family of protein known as oligoadenylate syntethase (OAS). OAS is an RNA-activated enzyme, which can recognise viral infection and initiate an innate immune response. He continued this work as a postdoc in the US at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 2001 to 2004, working jointly in the groups of Ganesh Sen and Vivien Yee, to crystalize OAS and solve the three-dimensional structure of this exciting protein.

After completing the structural work in Cleveland, he received a Senior Research Fellow grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and returned to Aarhus in 2004 to start his own group. He became associate professor at Aarhus University in 2004, and joined the Centre for Structural Biology in 2006. After returning to Aarhus, he started an ambitious research programme on the type III Interferons, a class of cytokines which is critical in our antiviral defense. His group described how type III IFN is critical in defending the mucosal tissue, in particular the respiratory epithelial, and play a key role in our defense against influenza virus. More recently his group has expanded to describe the role of type III IFN in the liver and how this cytokine is involved both viral infection of the liver (like Hepatitis C virus) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Since becoming tenured in 2010, Rune has been responsible for developing the teaching programme in immunology at the Faculty of Science and Technology. He has established a strong course in basic immunology – with a focus on understanding the molecular processes governing an immune response –which is well attended by student from multiple disciplines within science and technology.   


Rune Hartmann was born on 24 June 1970, and is married to Karin Lykke-Hartmann, who is an associate professor at the Department of Biomedicine, and with whom he has three children. 


For further information, please contact


Professor Rune Hartmann
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark
+4528992578 - rh@mbg.au.dk